Gilcrease Museum Launches 3 Groundbreaking Collections That Bring Diverse Catalog of 4,600 Items, New Perspectives to Audiences Online

Gilcrease Museum Launches 3 Groundbreaking Collections That Bring Diverse Catalog of 4,600 Items, New Perspectives to Audiences Online

New Collections Open Up Access to Artwork, Historical Resources
 – Many Never-Before Researched or Presented for Public Viewing Online by the Museum

Focal Points: 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre; 150 Years of Indigenous Painting Traditions;
Artists Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran

Key Items Presented With Perspectives That Represent Creators Who Are Black, Indigenous and Female

This Is Fruition of Multi-Year Research, Cataloging, Digitization Efforts Funded by Major Grants

TULSA, Okla., May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Gilcrease Museum has dramatically expanded the availability of its resources online with the addition of three groundbreaking collections that provide a window into 150 years of American history and visual expression. Many of the items in these collections have never been previously researched or available for public view online.

Representing the addition of more than 4,600 items in the Gilcrease Museum online resources, the collections are:

  • Eddie Faye Gates Tulsa Race Massacre Collection;
  • Indigenous Paintings at Gilcrease Museum; and
  • Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Collection at Gilcrease Museum.

Together, they are the fruition of multi-year projects funded by two grants to Gilcrease Museum – from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services – that totaled almost $1.2 million.

Gilcrease Museum launches these collections – providing online access around the world to scholars, students and lovers of art, history and culture – at a time when its primary brick-and-mortar presence has been razed and construction is under way on a new facility.

“This is an amazing opportunity to throw the doors wide open for everyone to experience these important collections virtually while we construct a new Gilcrease Museum that will once again welcome in-person visitors from around the world for exhibits and experiences,” says Susan Neal, the museum’s executive director.

The new Gilcrease Museum, sited on the same land in the rolling Osage Hills near downtown Tulsa where Thomas Gilcrease established the museum in 1949, is designed to better protect its priceless collection of American art and history artifacts to provide an enhanced visitor experience. Tulsa voters on Aug. 8 will have the opportunity to approve $10 million in matching funds for the new facility as part of a broader “Improve Our Tulsa” funding package.

“On behalf of the City of Tulsa, which owns Gilcrease Museum, we are honored to share with the world these works of art, artifacts and objects that help inform the story of the people, the places and events that have shaped America,” Neal says. “These collections – with a diverse focus ranging from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre to Indigenous paintings and an overlooked, 19th-century female artist – all bring to the forefront voices and perspectives that have long been under-represented in museums, including ours, and in the stories on which history has been written.

“Many of the works that are now available are making their debut online. These collections represent a monumental moment in Gilcrease Museum’s quest to make our important and unique collections accessible and known as they never have been,” Neal says.

Here are snapshots of the new collections:

Eddie Faye Gates Tulsa Race Massacre Collection

The collection was a 2020 gift from the Eddie Faye Gates family. Gates was a researcher, author, historian, educator and community activist whose life’s work provides an invaluable window into the lived experiences of Black North Tulsans from the early 20th century to approximately 2010. Gates died in December 2021, a little more than six months after the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.

The initial portion of the collection that is available online features more than 700 photos and 42 hours of video, including Gates’ interviews with survivors of the May 31-June 1, 1921, Tulsa Race Massacre and other community members with stories of North Tulsa history.

In the spirit of Gates’ long tenure as a public-school educator, an integral component of the online content is newly created teaching resource guides. The free guides, which use components from the collection, are designed for classroom teachers at four different levels from kindergarten through high school.

A selection of photos in the collection benefits from community-generated tagging – identifications of people, places and events – created by pairs of elders, many of whom knew Eddie Faye Gates, and high-school students from the North Tulsa community. The teams performed tagging online, using custom software that Gilcrease expects to continue to use as it expands the participation of the North Tulsa community in providing context for more photos.

For more detail about the Eddie Faye Gates Tulsa Race Massacre collection, visit the Gilcrease Museum website. Also, see this linked collection-highlights document with background information and selected images.

Indigenous Paintings at Gilcrease Museum

This Luce Foundation funded project includes 47 Indigenous artists and 1,500 paintings – many never researched or imaged since they became part of the Gilcrease Museum collection.

Eighty paintings are accompanied by essays that are the result of new research to provide Indigenous perspectives and interpretations. The Gilcrease Museum research includes extensive input – largely gathered through oral interviews – from the artists, their relatives or tribes.

As well, there are 10 biographies of Indigenous painters, providing further context to their life and work. They are Norman Akers, Woody Big Bow, Jim Lacy Red Corn, Brummett Echohawk, Joan Hill, Ruthe Blalock Jones, Stephen Mopope, Narcissa Chisholm Owen, Lois Smokey / Bou-ge-Tah, and Marian Terasaz.

As designed, this project serves as a catalyst for Gilcrease Museum as well as other curators, scholars, Indigenous communities and artists to rethink the role of culture, history, and identity in the study and display of Indigenous arts.

For more detail about the Indigenous Paintings at Gilcrease Museum collection visit the Gilcrease Museum website. Also, see this linked collection-highlights document with background information and selected images.

Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Collection at Gilcrease Museum

Gilcrease Museum holds the largest and most comprehensive collections of the work of Thomas Moran and his wife, Mary Nimmo Moran, two significant American artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For the first time, the entirety of Gilcrease Museum’s Moran collection is available online. The collection includes 2,375 items, among which are oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, etchings, personal sketchbooks, letters, diaries and photographs. The Moran collection is an essential resource for understanding Thomas and Mary Nimmo and many issues of their time, offering a wealth of avenues for investigating their varied art and its implications.

Of particular interest in this collection is the introduction of a significant body of work by Mary Nimmo Moran. She enjoyed recognition for her printmaking during the American etching revival of the 1880s and 1890s – and was the first woman to join professional etching societies in New York and London. But, beyond her lifetime, she has been little-known and largely overshadowed by her husband who achieved fame with his portrayals of the American West.

The online collection includes essays on 90 artworks that curators selected for focused study and analysis. The essays provide aesthetic, historical and personal context. In a few instances, the research uncovered details that resulted in corrections to broadly accepted identifications of artwork subjects and locations.

For more detail about the Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Collection at Gilcrease Museum collection visit the Gilcrease Museum website. Also, see this linked collection-highlights document with background information and selected images.

More About Gilcrease Museum Online Resources

Gilcrease Museum’s online collection includes more than 30,000 publicly accessible objects from its more than 350,000 collection items. Efforts to digitize the collection began in 2013. Many images from these projects are available for closer inspection using download and zoom features. The online collection is dynamic – continually expanding not only in the number of items, but also in the quantity and quality of information about existing items.

About Gilcrease Museum

The Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, known as Gilcrease Museum, is known for its comprehensive collection of the art, culture and history of North America. The museum, located in Tulsa, Okla., is owned by the City of Tulsa and managed by the University of Tulsa.

Thomas Gilcrease, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, established Gilcrease Museum in 1949. Today the interdisciplinary collection contains more than 350,000 items. The museum represents hundreds of Indigenous cultures from across North and South America, with material culture and archaeology ranging from 12,000 BCE to the 21st century. The collection includes more than 350 years of American paintings, sculptures and works on paper, including the largest public holdings of art of the American West.

The Helmerich Center for American Research, a critical part of the Gilcrease campus, hosts researchers, students, faculty and fellowships from throughout the country to conduct research on the Gilcrease Library and Archive, which has been housed in the Center since 2014. The collection is comprised of manuscripts, photographs, maps, rare books, print portfolios and broadsides related to the history of the North American continent from the 15th through the 20th centuries.

Gilcrease Museum is closed during construction of a new structure – designed to provide better protection of its priceless and vast collection and an enhanced visitor experience – at the same site near downtown Tulsa where the original museum stood.

More About the Grants That Funded These Projects

The Henry Luce Foundation in 2019 awarded Gilcrease Museum a $890,000 grant for the work referenced here on the Indigenous Paintings and Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran collections.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2020 awarded Gilcrease Museum a $299,710 grant (CAGML-247978-OMLS-20) for work on the Eddie Faye Gates Tulsa Race Massacre Collection with a focus on bringing online access to photos and videos, community engagement, as well as the creation of educational materials. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

SOURCE Gilcrease Museum

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